DIY iPod Picture Frame

I can’t seem to get enough out of making picture frames out of things with screens. If it’s old, can be seen and has a color screen, then put a slideshow program on it, build a frame and matte for it and give it to someone, I always say.
This DIY how-to describes how to create a digital picture frame (DPF) from an iPod, probably the easiest thing to use. Unfortunately, this page only describes how to make the frame and provides a few helpful hints on how to set up your photos, but it will be updated as soon as I get linux installed, and the world is limitless as to its possibilities.

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I began with the main ingredients:

  • 4 x 6″ picture frame
    This frame cost me about $4 and was pretty easy to find at my local craft store, Ben Franklin. The frame could not be any smaller as there needed to be room for the extra iPod body to reside.
  • 4 x 6″ cardboard matte with iPod screen sized hole


    I cut my hole in the dead middle and ended up having to shave some frame off of the inside so the iPod could fit inside. You could cut the hole a little higher in the matte and some people actually think photos look better positioned that way.

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  • iPod
    Anything you want to use is fine and can usually be mounted against the matte without removing any pieces. Some devices like PocketPCs will be a little ahrder to mount as you have to disassemble the front of the device so it will fit in the frame without a gap.

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I used small lengths of the wooden dowels I used for my last project and glued them down in locations that would center the ipod exactly with the matte. The iPod sat a bit low in the frame, so I cut a couple thin pieces of paper and glued them where I chiseled out the frame to raise it up just a little.

img_0553img_0554The pieces were glued down, an extra length of wood was added for stability, and the back of the frame was attached to the other side.

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Thankfully, these 1/2″ dowels were just the right thickness for the iPod and I didn’t have to worry about aking it fit snugly.

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The iPod fits in snugly like the frame was made for it! Now, for any parties I may have, I am ready with a slideshow any passerby can stop and watch. The amazing 3D transitions used by the iPod are also very cool to watch.

Tips for displaying photos on a teeny-tiny screen

  • They are hard to see, crop out all the extraneous stuff.
  • Unless you are pulling these people aside and letting them know just how cool you DPF is (what I do), copying your photos over straight from the camera is not a good idea. Crop out everything you don’t need from your photo and when you’re done, crop it again. It’s okay if everything that is the photo is a person’s eyes and nose, it’s better than a pixelated, unrecognizable face any old day.gray-facebook-copy
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  • Bump up the color, it’s all about getting people’s attention
    This frame is only to be noticed and viewed from about a foot away. Use only your most interesting photos and raise the saturation a little so viewers don’t have to strain too much to figure out what they’re looking at.cimg0538
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  • Make the photos slide past quickly, about 10 sec each is good.
    Videwers will likely be standing when viewing your DPF, make them go by at a rate that does not bore them, but is not so short they can’t figure out what’s going on. This will be shorter than a regular sized DPF, about 3-5 seconds.

Things I want to do for the future:

  • Install iPod Linux
    Apple’s software is amazing and offers a sleep timer so you don’t leave the iPod on all night, draining the battery, but just knowing your iPod has linux on it can be cool. It gives you credibility.
  • Write chron script to turn the iPod on and off”
    iPod Linux proably doesn’t have a built-in sleep timer and a chron script would do just the trick. To have your iPod turn off at 2am when your party is over is one less thing you have to worry about before going to bed.
  • Compile Feh for iPod Linux
    Feh is the best program to use when making a PC based DPF and I am surprised it hasn’t been moved over to the iPod. Feh offers features like folder specification for slideshows, command-line control and downloading images over the network for display (if only iPod was connected). I’m not sure if I could do this ahving never compiled anything without a step-by-step tutorial at my side, but if it’s possible, I will do it. Unless someone else out there is up to the challenge :)